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Paris

Cover of Paris

Paris

The Novel
Borrow Borrow
From the grand master of the historical novel comes a dazzling, epic portrait of the City of Light
Internationally bestselling author Edward Rutherfurd has enchanted millions of readers with his sweeping, multigenerational dramas that illuminate the great achievements and travails throughout history. In this breathtaking saga of love, war, art, and intrigue, Rutherfurd has set his sights on the most magnificent city in the world: Paris.
Moving back and forth in time across centuries, the story unfolds through intimate and vivid tales of self-discovery, divided loyalties , passion, and long-kept secrets of characters both fictional and real, all set against the backdrop of the glorious city—from the building of Notre Dame to the dangerous machinations of Cardinal Richlieu; from the glittering court of Versailles to the violence of the French Revolution and the Paris Commune; from the hedonism of the Belle Époque, the heyday of the impressionists, to the tragedy of the First World War; from the 1920s when the writers of the Lost Generation could be found drinking at Les Deux Magots to the Nazi occupation, the heroic efforts of the French Resistance, and the 1968 student revolt.
With his unrivaled blend of impeccable research and narrative verve, Rutherfurd weaves an extraordinary narrative tapestry that captures all the glory of Paris. More richly detailed, more thrilling, and more romantic then anything Rutherfurd has written before, Paris: The Novel wonderfully illuminates hundreds of years in the City of Light and Love and brings the sights, scents, and tastes of Paris to sumptuous life.
From the grand master of the historical novel comes a dazzling, epic portrait of the City of Light
Internationally bestselling author Edward Rutherfurd has enchanted millions of readers with his sweeping, multigenerational dramas that illuminate the great achievements and travails throughout history. In this breathtaking saga of love, war, art, and intrigue, Rutherfurd has set his sights on the most magnificent city in the world: Paris.
Moving back and forth in time across centuries, the story unfolds through intimate and vivid tales of self-discovery, divided loyalties , passion, and long-kept secrets of characters both fictional and real, all set against the backdrop of the glorious city—from the building of Notre Dame to the dangerous machinations of Cardinal Richlieu; from the glittering court of Versailles to the violence of the French Revolution and the Paris Commune; from the hedonism of the Belle Époque, the heyday of the impressionists, to the tragedy of the First World War; from the 1920s when the writers of the Lost Generation could be found drinking at Les Deux Magots to the Nazi occupation, the heroic efforts of the French Resistance, and the 1968 student revolt.
With his unrivaled blend of impeccable research and narrative verve, Rutherfurd weaves an extraordinary narrative tapestry that captures all the glory of Paris. More richly detailed, more thrilling, and more romantic then anything Rutherfurd has written before, Paris: The Novel wonderfully illuminates hundreds of years in the City of Light and Love and brings the sights, scents, and tastes of Paris to sumptuous life.
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  • From the book

    Chapter One

    1875

    Paris. City of love. City of dreams. City of splendor. City of saints and scholars. City of gaiety.

    Sink of iniquity.

    In two thousand years, Paris had seen it all.



    It was Julius Caesar who had first seen the possibilities of the place where the modest Parisii tribe made their home. The Mediterranean lands of southern Gaul had already been Roman provinces for generations at that time; but when Caesar decided to bring the troublesome Celtic tribes of northern Gaul into the empire as well, it hadn't taken him long.

    The Romans had quickly seen that this was a logical place for a town. A collecting point for the produce of the huge fertile plains of northern Gaul, the Parisian territory lay on the navigable River Seine. From its headwaters farther south, there was an easy portage to the huge River Rhône, which ran down to the busy ports of the Mediterranean. Northward, the Seine led to the narrow sea across which the island of Britannia lay. This was the great river system through which the southern and northern worlds were joined. Greek and Phoenician traders had been using it even before the birth of Rome. The site was perfect. The Parisian heartland lay in a wide, shallow valley through which the Seine made a series of graceful loops. In the center of the valley, on a handsome east-west bend, the river widened and several big mudflats and islands lay, like so many huge barges at anchor, in the stream. On the northern bank, meadows and marshes stretched far and wide until they came to the lip of low, enclosing ridges, from which several small hills and promontories jutted out, some of them covered with vineyards.

    But it was on the southern bank--the left bank as one went downstream--that the ground near the river swelled gently into a low, flat hillock, like a table overlooking the water. And it was here that the Romans had laid out their town, a large forum and the main temple covering the top of the table with an amphitheater nearby, a grid of streets all around, and a north-south road running straight through the center, across the water to the largest island, which was now a suburb with a fine temple to Jupiter, and over a farther bridge to the northern bank. They had originally called the town Lutetia. But it was also known, more grandly, as the city of the Parisii.



    In the Dark Ages after the Roman Empire fell, the German tribe of Franks had conquered the territory in the Land of the Franks, as it came to be called, or France. Its rich countryside had been invaded by Huns and Viking Norsemen. But the island in the river, with its wooden defenses, like some battered old ship, survived. In medieval times, she'd grown into a great city, her maze of Gothic churches, tall timbered houses, dangerous alleys and stinking cellars spread across both sides of the Seine, enclosed by a high stone wall. Stately Notre Dame Cathedral graced the island. Her university was respected all over Europe. Yet even then, the English came and conquered her. And Paris might have been English if Joan of Arc, the miraculous maid, hadn't appeared and chased them out.

    Old Paris: City of bright colors and narrow streets, of carnival and plague.

    And then there was new Paris.

    The change had come slowly. From the time of the Renaissance, lighter, classical spaces began to appear in her dark medieval mass. Royal palaces and noble squares created a new splendor. Broad boulevards began to carve through the rotting old warrens. Ambitious rulers created vistas worthy of ancient Rome.

    Paris had altered her face to suit the magnificence of Louis XIV, and the elegance of Louis XV. The Age of...

About the Author-
  • EDWARD RUTHERFURD is the internationally bestselling author of seven novels, including the New York Times bestsellers New York, London, The Princes of Ireland, and The Rebels of Ireland.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Rutherfurd's newest saga entwines seven centuries of families and a multitude of events that helped to shape the magnificent city of Paris. The noble de Cynge clan sustains a multigenerational blood feud against the Le Sourds, the bourgeois Blanchards founded and continue to run a high-fashion retail dynasty, and the laboring Gascons include a riveter who toiled for Eiffel. Narrator Jean Gilpin's mostly straightforward reading gives consistency to the somewhat ragged narrative, which jumps back and forth through time and families so much that the listener may wonder if the audio player is skipping. Most notable are Gilpin's subtle portrayal of the distinctive designer Coco Chanel and her graceful characterizations of the Jacobs, a Jewish family that specializes in private art collections. Gilpin's steady interpretation makes PARIS a worthwhile listen. N.M.C. (c) AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 27, 2013
    This massive novel traces the evolution of the City of Light over eight centuries, lacing together the fates of a handful of families in operatic style over the decades as class, religion, and commerce are buffeted by great historical forces. From the construction of Notre Dame and the Belle Epoque to the Nazi occupation, Rutherfurd (New York), a specialist in fictionalizing great sweeps of history through a single place, weaves the family ties of a bourgeois merchant clan, a minor aristocratic lineage, and a working-class family of patriots and criminals. Augmented by a credible cast of several dozen other characters, the author spins tales of multiple of emotions over many eras. Rutherfurd dispatches these rich historical periods with grace, bringing different epochs to life through the family sagas that cleave through the sweep of time, from an era of great cathedrals to the rise of the Eiffel Tower. Though his characters are too often pressed into service as talking history textbooks, he shows great authority as to what makes Paris exciting, lively, and timeless in its appeal. Agent: Rogers, Coleridge & White (U.K.).

  • Booklist "Anyone who has ever visited Paris or desires to do so will definitely want to dig into this movable feast. Both Paris, the venerable City of Light, and Rutherfurd, the undisputed master of the multigenerational historical saga, shine in this sumptuous urban epic."
  • Kirkus "Rutherfurd's sense of epic sweep is admirable."
  • Associated Press "Paris has been both good and bad to the aristocratic de Cygne family over the centuries. While one generation was welcome at the nearby court of Versailles, another faced the guillotine during the Reign of Terror. Edward Rutherfurd's latest historical novel tracks the de Cygnes and a few other families in Paris from 1261 to 1968 as the city evolves from a medieval outpost to world-class metropolis. His primary focus is on the cohort born later in the 19th century who grew up to witness the existential threat to Paris in two world wars. Aside from the noble de Cygnes, the book follows the merchant Blanchard family, the working-class Gascons and the lefty Le Sourd clan. Action jumps from their day to points in the past. The fates of the families intersect over the centuries like lines on a Paris subway map. The churches, gardens and back alleys of long-ago Paris are revealed through the characters' eyes...The last part of the book, is set in occupied Paris during World War II. In this long, climactic section, Rutherfurd succeeds best at describing not just the buildings and gardens of Paris, but also the actual mood of the city under Nazi rule. Some of the characters respond heroically, another cynically, leading to a familial reckoning that is both tense and enjoyable to read."
  • USA Today Praise for New York: The Novel

    "Sweeping...History has never been so fun to read."
  • The Washington Post "[A] riotous, multilayered portrait."
  • The Post and Courier "Incredible storytelling . . . Readers will fall in love with the iconic city."
  • New York Times "A sweeping, carefully reconstructed portrait of a nation...leaps through centuries."
  • Booklist "A spellbinding tour of ancient Ireland."
  • Booklist "Teeming with a huge cast of finely drawn and realized characters, and dripping with authentic historical detail [that] will satisfy the appetites of discerning historical fiction aficionados."
  • Chicago Sun-Times
    Praise for Sarum


    "Strong...Appealing...Fascinating."
  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram
    "A sparkling window upon history with a superb narrative."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "A richly imagined vision of history, written with genuine delight."
  • Washington Post Book World "Rutherfurd is a skilled storyteller...juggles his immense cast with great poise and momentum."
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Edward Rutherfurd
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